23 SES 11 B, Radical Social Theory for Radical Times: Putting Theory to Work in Educational Research I
Symposium, Part 1
This paper introduces the theoretical concept of social acceleration (e.g. Adam 2004), reflecting on the emancipatory power it may bring into higher education (HE) research. It has been claimed (Rosa 2010) that modern subjects are regulated and dominated by an invisible, de-politicized, under-theorized and unarticulated time regime, following the logic of social acceleration in technology, social change and the pace of life. We argue that this acceleration affects all spheres of life, yet at the same time creates contradictory forces and encounters spaces not easily speeded up. Applying this theoretical framework, we will explore tensions and contradictions in academic work in the current HE context, characterized by academic capitalism (Slaughter & Leslie 1997). Focus group interviews with Finnish teacher-researchers highlight the diversity of temporalities they rely on in recounting their work. In particular, we analyze distinct forms of social acceleration taking place in academic work, including counterforces to these processes. Finally, we tease out potential spaces resistant to acceleration. By emphasising the time perspective, we challenge the way in which current HE research has largely elided temporal dynamics. We also suggest that temporal theorizing could provide a new yardstick for critical reflection on academic work and for enhancing its quality.
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